Mega retailer Wal-Mart has recently introduced a new collection of gold and silver jewelry that, according to its website, is “made with materials from sources that are committed to protecting the environment” and “designed to inspire a global fashion movement based on the precepts of recycle, reduce, and respect.”
On the Love, Earth® website, consumers are invited to trace the origin of any piece in the collection – from the mine, through the manufacturing process, to its arrival at the Wal-Mart distribution center. Additionally, Love, Earth® jewelry purchases are packaged in “earth-friendly” paper boxes or muslin bags with vegetable-based-ink tags.
At Brilliant Earth, we love to see major retailers taking an initiative to make their supply chain visible to consumers. In doing so, they bring social and environmental issues to customers’ attention and get them thinking about the global impacts of the decisions they make as consumers. Nonetheless, there remain some unanswered questions about the practices of the mines that Wal-Mart sources from and the actual extent of their responsibility and alleged “sustainability.” We recently engaged in a conference call with Wal-Mart where they were urged to really scrutinize their sources, be careful about the difference between traceability and environmental responsibility, and to be careful of false claims regarding sustainability.
However, we’d call this a good start and a positive indication that the industry is ready for change. We’re always happy to see ethical issues brought to the attention of consumers.